Why teaching children handwriting is still important


By Tayla for Motherhood the Real Deal

In this day of gadgets and gizmos where the thumb seems to be mightier than the pen, you could be forgiven for thinking that teaching children handwriting is not as important as it once was. WRONG! Teaching children handwriting is still as important as ever. I’ve joined forces with uni-ball to share my thoughts on why handwriting is a skill that needs to be cherished and nurtured:

It improves memory

As a child, I remember writing things over and over in order to remember them. These days as an adult can I remember anything that I type on a keyboard? Not likely! The reason why this is is because the brain engages differently when you write something down on paper as opposed to getting the same thought, idea or sentence down via a keyboard. It’s no wonder then that studies have shown that handwriting improves memory and that children learn better when writing ideas down, as opposed to typing them.

It is better at helping children with literacy

While there are so many fantastic apps out there these days to help children to learn the alphabet and to read and write, sometime’s the old school really is the best school. Learning letters on a screen only engages the eyes and the fingertips however learning them through writing also  brings in more touch sensory experiences, fine-motor muscles in the fingers and even the arms and body.

Note-keeping rocks

As a blogger, this one comes from the heart. Although the words that I write at this precise moment are all through the keyboard, almost all my note taking is done in a note pad and many successful people across all careers and walks of life state that jotting down notes has been crucial to their success. The ability to jot down notes is still so important so let’s not forget it.

Handwriting helps children be in the now

Technology has it’s place, but it can also be a massive distraction. There is something amazingly immersive about handwriting – it brings you into the now. You can’t write as fast as you think – unlike typing. Handwriting forces us all to slow down and be more considered – something that is invaluable for children in this crazy fast paced life we live in.

Handwriting is part of a child’s identity

Do you remember experimenting with different styles of handwriting as a child? I do. I remember also experiemting with copying other people’s styles, and wondering what someone’s handwriting said about them. Handwriting is a unique personal statement, and one that should be embraced by every child as part of their individuality and exploration of self.

You can’t beat a child’s handwritten note

OK, slightly selfish, but you know when your child first starts writing you little notes, thank you letters, and cards. You heart melts. Are you going to feel that way when they learn to send you an email, or leave a message up on your computer instead of a post it note? Nah, I didn’t think so. These acts of handwriting have to be up there with the moments that make parenthood worthwhile.

So as you can tell I’m really a handwriting advocate, and if you’re passionate about keeping the skill of handwriting alive in your children, why not check out these top tips on teaching handwriting to children as well as these free handwriting worksheets for children.

How to enjoy Florence with your children



By Gavanndra Hodge for Tatler

One of the most fun things about parenting is that you get to create a human. And I am not just talking about the walking, talking thing with legs and a beating heart, I am talking about their minds - the things they love, the things they can take or leave. This might sound sinister, but it is deeply satisfying to nudge them gently into liking what you like; and, likewise, to completely eradicate what you don't like, such as One Direction and McDonald's, from the unique universe you create for them.

And so it was that I decided to take my seven-year-old daughter to Florence, the place I love the most, a jewel box of art and food and history cradled in a Tuscan landscape of hills and cypresses in many misty shades of green. But also a place of pizza and ice cream and statues that you can climb and exciting stories about princesses and poison and duels. It would be, I hoped, a city where our passions would meet and mingle. Often, holidays with children are all about them. I wanted this one to be all about us.

We left a rainy London on a Friday afternoon and arrived to a warm Florentine evening. The helpful elves at our hotel, Portrait Firenze, had left popcorn for Hebe, as well as extraordinarily good chocolate biscuits (sort of posh Jaffa Cakes) and her own iPad. At this point, she never wanted to go back home - she didn't even want to leave the hotel, but I did manage to winkle her out. We were about two seconds from the Ponte Vecchio, and I explained how all the little shops selling jewellery had once been butchers, and that they would chuck their slimy off-cuts into the Arno. We walked to the Piazza Santo Spirito, where children played on the church steps, firing small spinning plastic contraptions into the air that lit up the black sky, and where we ate pizza and chatted about ninjas.

Hebe catapulted herself out of  bed the following morning because she was so excited, but that was nothing compared with how she felt on first sighting the 'children's breakfast bar' - a pyramid of pink iced doughnuts, chunks of honeycomb, glass jars of sugary sprinkles, mini-pots of Nutella... I let her go for it. We had a busy day planned; I reasoned she needed all the energy she could get.

Our first stop was the 15th-century Villa Medici in Fiesole. It is private, but the owners will do pre-booked tours. The villa was one of the first built in the hills that crowd Florence for the leisure and pleasure of its moneyed residents. OK, so this was probably more my thing than Hebe's, but while the owner's son, the incredibly elegant Lorenzo Mazzini, talked to me about the intricate 17th-century grottesche wall paintings and Renaissance water pipes, Hebe spun around the polished floors and rucked up expensive rugs. And while Lorenzo and I sat down outside for tiny cups of black coffee and homemade pine-nut biscuits (wine was offered, even though it was 11am - told you he was suave), enjoying the view of the sunbaked Duomo, Hebe zigzagged between the lemon trees. The Medicis were obsessed with lemons and would swap cuttings with Egyptian potentates. Lorenzo let us pick some to take home with us - lemons, that is, not potentates.

Back in Florence, fortified by lunch at the hotel (mainly involving a tiramisu with the biscotti soaked in vin santo), Hebe and I did the classic sights. Piazza della Signoria, where the statue of  Perseus holding the head of the Medusa, complete with trailing gore, was a big hit. In the Baptistery we were told off because Hebe lay on the floor so she could get a better photo of the Devil eating a human, legs dangling out of his mouth. And she declared the view from the top of the Campanile 'awesome'. After all that, it was definitely time for a mango and strawberry gelato from Venchi.

The following day, after another epic breakfast, we were met by Molly, an American who came to Florence as a student and never left, and now specialises in educational tours for children. Our destination was the Boboli Gardens, created in the 16th century for Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo I de' Medici. Molly had concocted a treasure hunt for us - we had to find an obelisk, monkeys and a grotto. When Hebe's attention waned (the inevitable sugar low after her breakfast of boiled sweets and chocolate cake), Molly whipped out a calligraphy pen and some purple ink and Hebe composed poetry while I meditated on the view of the countryside from Eleonora's Rose Garden, where Medici princelings and principessas would once have listened to lute- based music. Molly dropped us off at Il Papiro, where we were given a demonstration of the ancient art of marbling, which, even in this age of iPads and Minecraft, remains magical.

I was very keen to complete our trip with a visit to the Uffizi, to see the Caravaggios, the Titians and the Botticellis. Hebe was already a little tetchy, and there was a lot of complaining about the steps up to the gallery, but then she came up with the genius plan of photographing every naked bottom in the place. There are a lot of bottoms in the Uffizi. After two industrious hours, including a grisly five minutes with the statue of the flayed Marsyas, we were virtually the last people in there and could enjoy the Primavera in peace, our efforts rewarded by a hot chocolate (for Hebe) and an Aperol spritz (for me) on the terrace as the Palazzo Vecchio bells chimed - it was the perfect meeting and mingling of our passions. And it was awesome.

To Raise Kids With More Empathy, We Need to Do Everything Wrong


By Michele Borba for Time

Every parent wants their children to excel, so we line up tutors, buy the latest electronics, arrange after-school classes, and anything else to help them get those A’s. But are we really focusing on the right stuff? Not according to recent data.

Non-cognitive skills—like emotional literacy, managing emotions, collaborating, joy and empathy—are the hidden secret of school success and what our 21st-century kids need to thrive. But modern day parenting still too often touts grades, grit and scores as the “secret achievement sauce” and often overlooks the other side of the report card. Our schools once promoted and reported on traits like caring, character and citizenship. This is rarely the case now.

According to the latest World Economic Report, critical thinking, decision making and complex problem solving are still necessary skills to thrive in our global world, but equally important are people skills like emotional intelligence, collaboration and empathy. Empathy, the ability to put oneself in other people’s shoes, is the cornerstone for becoming a happy, well-adjusted, successful adult. It makes our children more likable, more employable, more resilient, better leaders,more conscience-driven, and increases their life spans.

Yet our teens’ empathy levels dipped 40% in just 30 years, according to one 2010 report. Almost 75% of college-age students today rate themselves as less empathetic, less likely to try to understand their friends by imagining their perspective, and less likely to be concerned for people less fortunate. Harvard’s Making Caring Common 2014 report that surveyed 10,000 teens about which values matter most found that 80% chose “high achievement or happiness” as their top choice; only 20% picked “caring for others.” The same report found that four out of five teens said that their parents cared more about achievement than caring.

This offers an important lesson to parents: Just switching our parent queries from always: “What grade did you get?” to including: “What kind thing did you do?” can help kids understand that caring matters. Unless we free up time for relationships, we may be raising a generation of kids who can’t see past their smartphones and jam-packed schedules to notice the human beings in front of them.

Our ultra-focus on academics also can create another by-product: unhappy children. Depression and anxiety have soared among teens, and now strikes younger children. Teen stress is at higher levels than that reported by adults. One in five U.S. youth meets the criteria for a mental disorder in their lifetime, according to one study.

When empathy wanes, aggression and peer cruelty can rise. Bullying has intensified to a level: “bullycide” is the new term used to identify youth bullying victims who commit suicide due to severe emotional distress perpetrated by their peers. Cyberbullying is on the rise. Research shows that cyber bullies display less affective empathy. Empathy may be the best educational strategy to prevent both online and offline peer cruelty.

The good news is that we can teach empathy to kids just like reading and writing, but it must start from an early age. Twenty-first-century children do need both sides of the report card, but we’ve been so narrow in our modern child-raising efforts that empathy and non-cognitive skills are on our back burners. This year it’s time to put the other side of the report card back on our agendas. The brave new world our kids will face demands that we do.

Parenting Debate: Should You Force Your Kids to Hug Relatives During the Holidays?


By Suzanne Zuckerman for PureWow

The holidays are filled with good tidings of comfort and joy—and awkward hugs. Think about it: Your husband’s cousin from Chicago may seem hug-worthy to you (how fun was he at your wedding?!), but to your kids, he’s a total stranger—with facial hair no less. And if you’re anything like us, you’ve been talking to them for years about “good touching and bad touching.” But is letting children bolt at the sight of a bearded stranger giving them the necessary tools for civility? And are we wrapping something innocent in cynicism and fear instead of tinsel and ribbon? Well, plenty of parenting experts say bodily autonomy and consent take priority over potentially offending an adult. Dreaming of a controversy-free Christmas? Better luck next year. Here, the two sides of the coin.


To New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz, labeling familial hugs as dangerous seems patently absurd: “Turning snuggles with grandpa into something sinister, and comparing it to horrific abuse…is a real problem,” she writes. “As unwanted touching continues to consume our media cycles, it’s a great time to educate kids on the differences between sexual and non-sexual touching and kissing. Lumping all affection into one jumbled ball only blurs the lines. Not everyone is a predator, in fact most people are not, and teaching kids to live in a world where they fear anyone can hurt them at any time is deeply unhealthy… Don’t sexualize innocent interactions and don’t make your kids afraid of everyone. Encouraging them to be affectionate with the important people in their lives will only brighten the line between appropriate and inappropriate touching for the time in life when they actually are autonomous.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics takes a clear stance:  “Do not force your children to give hugs or kisses to people they do not want to. It is their right to tell even grandma or grandpa that they do not want to give them a kiss or a hug goodbye… Constantly reinforce the idea that their body is their own, and they can protect it.” In fact, forced hugs could give kids—and girls in particular—“the wrong idea about consent and physical affection,” writes The Girl Scouts of America in a blog post entitled “Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays.” They quote developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald: “The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children. But the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older. Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.” Why not apply this to our sons as well? And to anyone who suggests that withholding hugs is rude? Tell them you’re helping your kids perfect a strong handshake; the better to prepare them for the boardroom and the campaign trail. 

16 Ways to Travel With Kids (And Enjoy It)


By Joanna Goddard for A Cup of Jo

When brainstorming family trips, I sometimes think of that funny Onion article, “Mom Spends Beach Vacation Assuming All Household Duties in Closer Proximity to Ocean.” So, how can you get a family vacation to feel like a true escape — not just for kids, but for grown-ups, too? Here, experienced mothers share their tried-and-true tips…

From Kendra Smoot, mother of three (aged 2, 5 and 10):

1. I start packing the week before we leave. I set out a suitcase or start a pile out of the way, and when I think of something (bug spray, sun hat, headphones), I just pack it up instead of scrambling right before we leave.

2. Ever since I heard that anticipation is half the fun, we involve the kids in the planning part — learning a bit of the history of where we are visiting, what things we want to do there.

3. We bring headlamps. They’re so handy and comforting for kids when they’re in a new space, or when you are all sharing a hotel room with a sleeping baby, etc.

4. Eating out for every meal with kids can sometimes feel like a drag, so we buy groceries and cook — and save eating out for a few special restaurants.

From Linsey Laidlaw, mother of three (aged 3, 6 and 9):

5. My best advice for easing plane travel is to keep your kids nice and deprived any time they aren’t flying so you can lord the prize of screen time and snacks over them as a bribe for good behavior. We don’t give them juice in our normal life, so the promise of their own little can of cranapple is tantalizing.

6. I love that exploring a new city as a family gives us a truer idea of what it’s like to live there. With kids, we experience grocery stores and neighborhood playgrounds and local spots that we’d probably miss if we were on a grown-up trip. We shape the itinerary so that everyone can choose one activity per day, and we alternate between adult and kid picks. The rule is you have to be supportive of other’s picks. So, if you keep it together on Mom’s walk through the museum, you won’t be cut short at the park — and also your chances for ice cream will increase exponentially.

From Brooke Williams, mother of one (aged 9):

7. On car trips, we listen to podcasts. Hours fly by like minutes. Tumble is a great kid-friendly podcast about science, and NPR has a whole directory of family podcasts. Then there are my favorite books on tape. We devoured the D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, which is read by Harry Belafonte, Kathleen Turner, Mathew Broderick and Paul Newman and might just be the Best. Audiobook. Ever. We also loved Wonder and A Wrinkle in Time. Oh, and we probably listened to The Little House on the Prairie 1000 times. Maybe more.

8. We try to rent apartments when traveling — it makes the pacing feel more human, and you can have that downtime at home. I like Kid & Coe for family-friendly houses in cool places. Plus, that way we’ll eat a good breakfast before setting out for the day. If Daddy makes pancakes, we’re all good!

From Amanda Jane Jones, mother of two (aged 1 and 3):

9. We carry a big (thin, so it can be easily folded) picnic blanket that can be used for picnics in case the kids are too rowdy for a restaurant. It also can be used for naps in transit. 

10. We have the most success when we plan outdoor adventures in nature. The kids are always 10 times happier on some sort of hike or beach or lake, so we try to work that into our days.

11. “Hangry” fits happened so often at the beginning of our last summer vacation, I quickly learned my lesson. Now I’ll pack sandwiches — croissants with tomato, mozzarella and arugula (the kids eat it without the arugula). Or if we’re in a rush, peanut butter and jelly.

From Liz Libré, mother of three (aged 9 months, 4 and 6):

12. We bring a few things for indoor play (for early mornings, downtime and rainy days): A Koosh ball is great for tossing around, especially at the airport; it doesn’t bounce away, which is key. Plus, the games Rush Hour and Spot It. Also, on a recent trip, my friend recommended Perler beads, which were a HUGE hit with the kids. We were on the most beautiful beach in the world, and my son wanted to go back to the room to do Perler!

13. We love being outside but don’t want to get burned, so we wear brimmed hats and hooded sun shirts. Kids are always exposing their backs and necks, digging in the sand or playing on the ground, and these help keep sun off them without being too hot.

From Erin Jang, mother of two (ages 1 and 5):

14. I always like to tell my son, “It’s an adventure!” My dad used to tell me that growing up. Energy is so infectious. If I am stressed, impatient and cranky, my kids feel it and it can sour the moment for everyone. But if I’m amped up, the day becomes that much more fun. As a parent, you can spin anything — even the mistakes, the detours, the forgotten diapers! — into an adventure.

15. On our last trip, I gave our five-year-old the very important job of being our family travel reporter. To my surprise, he took it very seriously! I brought a notebook, scissors, tape, a glue stick and markers. He collected bus and museum tickets, asked for business cards at restaurants, and sought out other ephemera. He documented the most important events (i.e., all sugary treats he ate) and it was a great activity when we were waiting at restaurants or on long train rides.

16. Lastly, packing cubes! They’re the best! It makes it so much easier to pack and unpack all the kid’s clothes, and keep things organized when we’re traveling.

Of course, tricky things still happen on family vacations, but it’s worth it for the great moments, right? “We’ve had tantrums and time-outs all over the world,” says Linsey Laidlaw. “For us, this is an acceptable cost of business, and we figure if we are gonna learn to master these behaviors somewhere, it may as well be on the go.” Also, I loved this mother’s Instagram comment on vacation mindfulness: “Repeat after me: ‘I’m on vacation and I don’t care!'”

City Guide: The Westside of Los Angeles


By Hannah Henderson for A Cup of Jo

Venice has been my home for the past 12 years. It feels like a small town within this huge city, which is comforting. On the west side, the beach is our backyard. Los Angeles is massive and we have the freedom of being on the fringe, not so locked into notorious traffic. On the west side you have everything you need, in a little bubble… a little bubble that happens to contain the Pacific Ocean.


Gjelina in Venice might be my favorite restaurant. The food is always, always perfect. The pizzas, seasonal burrata dishes (with prosciutto and stone fruit in the summer) and mushroom toast are especially great. If you’re in a group, share a bunch of plates to taste everything! A reservation on the back patio makes the experience even better. If you’re in a hurry, stop by the neighboring Gjelina Take Away and grab an order to go. 

Holy Guacamole in Santa Monica is a hole-in-the-wall place that serves quick, authentic Mexican food. Their quesadillas can make any kiddo cheer right up.

For brunch, try Cora’s Coffee Shop in Santa Monica. It’s tiny, relaxed and gorgeous (it has bougainvillea-covered patio!). I like getting the burrata caprese omelet and a cappuccino.

For lunch, stop by Gjusta in Venice. It’s a beautiful, laid-back café by the people behind Gjelina. Order the veggie sandwich (with tahini, avocado and roasted peppers), egg sandwich (with gruyere, bacon and hot sauce) or chocolate babka (made with croissant dough). Even the bathroom is lovely, with rustic styling and French-pane windows. Go at an off-hour or later in the day to avoid the rush.

Consider going to Ivy at the Shore in Santa Monica — a resort-style Italian restaurant (think: light pink walls, tropical patterns and fresh flowers everywhere) — at sunset. It’s not cheap, but it’s a classic dinner experience. I recommend the delicious lobster pasta and the Ivy Gimlet made with homegrown mint. 

If you’re up for a short drive, Malibu Farm Pier Café, off the Pacific Coast Highway, serves tasty, organic food at the end of a pier overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Try the crab cakes with baby potatoes and arugula.


Visit the Eames House in Pacific Palisades. It’s the private residence of American designers Charles and Ray Eames, and it’s stunning. Reservations are necessary, and it’s $10 to tour the outside. For adults only, special interior tours are available at a much higher price ($275!), but the fees go toward their 250 Year Project to conserves the site. If you’re into grand old houses like this, take a detour on the way and drive through Rustic Canyon. It’s a magical residential neighborhood that feels 100 miles away from the rest of Los Angeles. With huge eucalyptus trees and mid-century houses, it’s a real estate dream.

Spend a couple of hours wandering up and down Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. (GQ Magazine calls it “the coolest block in America.”) There are great shops, like AesopBazar and Urbanic. Opened by a husband and wife after their move from Tokyo, Tortoise has simple Japanese home goods. At the coffee shop Blue Bottle, order the New Orleans, a cold-brew with organic cane sugar, for a sweet jolt. On Sundays, Guerilla Taco Truck sits outside Blue Bottle. Their menu is flavorful and delicious, with items like a sweet potato taco with almond chile, feta cheese, fried corn and scallions. My kids also go nuts for Salt & Straw ice cream. The honey lavender is my favorite.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the Miracle Mile has amazing exhibits — through September, there is a Agnes Martin (an American abstract painter) show. The museum is also next door to the La Brea Tar Pits, which my kids love. A couple years ago, the city discovered thousands of fossils when they were digging to build a new parking structure. You can now watch scientists cleaning the fossils of ice-age creatures that used to roam Los Angeles.

Hiking is big in L.A., and one of my favorite spots is Temescal Canyon. The two-and-a-half mile loop takes you by ocean views and 100-year-old trees.

If you want to hang at the beach, head to Surfrider in Malibu, a classic surf spot. Or go a little farther up the coast to El Pescador for a quieter experience. It’s a secluded cove with tide pools at low tide. Bring water bottles, snacks and some friends to make a day out of it.


I’m definitely biased, but my shop General Store in Venice curates a mix of handmade home objects, clothing, jewelry, books and vintage goods. It’s the perfect place to find California gifts.

There are two locations of Lost & Found near each other on Main street in Santa Monica. One has women’s clothing with a sweet kids’ section, and the other one is for the home. Filled with natural light, the women’s shop has Italian sandals and quality clothing in natural fabrics. You find items there that you’ll wear for years.

For those who love flea markets, Los Angeles has some of the best, and they happen every weekend! The Santa Monica Airport Antique Market is open the first and fourth Sundays of the month. If you are venturing east, stop by Pasadena City College on the first Sunday of the month and the Rose Bowl Flea Market, the mother of all flea markets, on the second Sunday of the month. Melrose Trading Postat Fairfax High School is open every Sunday.


The Rose Hotel in Venice is a low-key, 14-room hotel that’s close to Muscle Beach and the Venice Skate Park. It’s a touristy area, so be prepared to navigate crowds. If you’re willing to brave the crazy boardwalk, my favorite place is the roller disco rink next to the skate park, which is packed with wonderful characters dancing in their roller skates. It’s a time capsule — and incredibly fun to watch.

Or, consider renting a house in Venice. That way, you’ll be walking distance to Abbot Kinney and the awesome shops on Lincoln. You’re close to everything — it’s the best way to experience the town. Make time to stroll down the Venice “walk-streets” (pedestrian-only pathways). The tree-lined sidewalks still have that old Venice charm.

If you want to sneak a bit east to Hollywood, I highly recommend staying a night at the legendary Chateau Marmont. It was built in 1929 as a deluxe apartment building, but the rooms were quickly changed into hotel suites and bungalows. It’s a beautiful Los Angeles landmark with so much old Hollywood history, you can feel the energy when you walk in. It’s been a star retreat for decades — F. Scott Fitzgerald, Annie Leibovitz, Hunter S. Thompson and Sofia Coppola, to name a few, have produced work here.


Los Angeles is a great place to visit any time of year because the weather is so wonderful, but it gets busier in the summer. If you come then, start your days early and do things on weekdays for the best experience. In the winter, sand sledding is a Venice tradition! The city builds huge sand dunes on the beach, and we slide down them in snow sleds. It’s really fun for everyone.

Paris Self-Guided Walking Tour


map of Paris powered by Google


from Wanderlust Crew

#1: Montmartre

Your journey will begin in this beautiful and historic part of Paris that is known for it’s lovely narrow cobbled streets, and was and still is home to many artists, especially during the era of Impressionism such as Salvador Dalí, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Piet Mondrian, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. I like to start here because it is the highest point you will see today, which means the rest of your day is essentially spent walking downhill! 

It’s a pretty long steep walk up to Sacre Coeur, but I love dawdling along the streets and stopping in the boulangerie to grab fresh bread and snacking while we make our way to the top. The view is worth it. I think half your time in Paris should be spent wandering the streets. It’s the best part! 

You can visit the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, walk the streets, have your picture painted (artists here must have a special license issued by the city which limits the number of artists allowed, so you know they will be good), stop and have a crepe or some frites and take the funicular, which has been running since 1900 (but has been updated) down the steps from Sacre Coeur if you don’t feel like walking up or down over 300 steps.

#2: The Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou is an awesome piece of inside-out architecture that houses France’s largest modern art museum and a public library. But the best thing about this building is that all of the functional external elements of the building are color-coded: green pipes are plumbing, blue ducts are for climate control, electrical wires are encased in yellow, and the red ones are circulation elements and health and safety. Even the escalators are on the outside of the building. How fun is that?!

#3: Le Marais

One of the oldest neighborhoods in Paris, Le Marais is a cobblestone paradise of vintage boutiques and small bistros. Plan to hit Le Marais around lunch time as this eclectic neighborhood is known for its food! After lunch be sure to visit the picturesque square of Place des Vosges. The Picasso Museum is also located in Le Marais. Stop by Carette for a tasty afternoon treat!

#4: Ile de la Cite

No visit to Paris would be complete without hearing the bells of Notre Dame and seeing the breathtaking view from the tower! But there is much more to explore on Ile de la Cite. Wander over the Sainte Chapelle for the most glorious stained glass windows you’ll ever see! Also worth a visit is Ile St. Louis next door.

#5: Pantheon

For another incredible view of Paris, take a guided tour up to the dome of the Pantheon, located in the Latin Quarter. The Pantheon, originally built as a church, is now a mausoleum to distinguished French citizens such as Voltaire, Marie Curie, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Emile Zola. 

#6: Luxembourg Gardens

Walk the short distance to the Luxembourg Gardens and enjoy a stroll through the park where you can people watch and enjoy some nature in the middle of the city. There is also a fantastic playground.

#7: Saint-Germain-des-Prés

As you leave the Luxembourg Gardens, head to the neighborhood of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, renowned for its vintage and boutique shopping and bustling cafes.

#8: Pont Neuf

Cross over the Seine again via Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge that crosses the river in Paris, built in the 1500s.

#9: Louvre

It’s time for a stop at the Louvre! The lines can get long, so if you plan to go inside, I would considering hiring a private tour through something like Paris Muse to get you through the Louvre without waiting in line and getting you a personal art history lesson. Be sure to grab eclairs from Eclair de Genie which can be found near the Louvre food court. Snap a selfie in front of the glass pyramids, which were a huge controversy during their construction, but are now Paris Icons. 

#9: Tuileries Garden 

Leaving the Louvre, stroll through the Tuileries Garden and enjoy an escape from city life on your way to the next museum…

#9: Orangerie Museum

The Musee de l’Orangerie is an art gallery full of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings from the likes of Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau and more! If you’re running short on time, pick between the Louvre and the Orangerie based on which art interests you more.

#10: Arc de Triomphe

Stroll all the way up the Champs Elysees (doing some window shopping while you’re at it), see the craziest roundabout you’ll ever see, and onto the Arc de Triomphe, which honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on the surfaces. At the base lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.  You can climb the steps for another fantastic view of the city and of your next destination, the Eiffel Tower! 

#11: Trocadero 

Walk to Trocadero where you will have the best viewing and photo spot for the Eiffel Tower just across the Seine.

#12: Eiffel Tower

Your walking tour stops at the Eiffel Tower. Originally designed for the 1889 World’s Fair, and only built to stand for 20 years, the tower came under extreme criticism from the citizens and artists of the day, but is now the most iconic structure in Paris, visited by over seven million people each year! Be sure to buy your tickets months in advance as they can book out. Also, consider scheduling a private tour. There are many that start at the Trocadero and walk you to the tower, all while teaching you about its history and skipping the lines. 

I hope this walking guide to Paris was helpful and that you love your time in Paris as much as I have. It’s truly one of those places that captures your heart if you do it right.

8 Ways to Have a Great Relationship with Your Nanny


By Ellen Seidman for Care.com

I have two loves of my life: My husband and my nanny. She's been with us since my son was born seven years ago, and I do everything I can to let her know how much I adore her. Take the other evening, when I went to an event thrown by a local mom's group. It was "spa night," and we were treated to manis, pedis and massages. We could also make our own bath salts, poured into a little glass jar and tied with a ribbon. I knew right away what I was going to do with mine: I came home and handed it to our nanny. "It's for you, so you can take a relaxing bath -- you deserve it," I said.

Granted, I sure could use a relaxing bath (or twenty) myself. But I'm always trying to make sure our nanny feels cared for. This is the woman who I trust to take care of my kids. She's my partner, my copilot, my wing-woman in parenting. I want to keep her happy -- and I want her to do good by my kids and me, too. And just like having a good relationship with my husband, that takes time and attention. Plenty of other moms I know feel the same -- and have their own smart strategies. Read for yourself about the ways they've built great relationships with their nannies.

  1. Make Expectations Clear From Day One
    "If you want your nanny to help with dinner or do laundry or light cleaning -- and she'll have the time free during the day to do them -- let her know from the start," says Betsy, a mom of one. "You don't just want to spring major new demands on a nanny, because then she'll feel taken advantage of." Some moms refuse to ask their nannies do housework, as tempting as it may be. As Judy, a mom of one, says, "Sure, I'd like some help, but I don't want to send the message that my baby isn't the top priority. She is."

  2. Care -- Really Care -- About Your Nanny
    "I care about my babysitter's mental and physical health as much as I care about my family's," says Denise, a mother of two. "I do it because she's part of my family, and I want her to feel that way. Also, the healthier she is, the better she'll be able to take care of my kids."

  3. Pamper Her
    "My babysitter has been with us since Brodie was 11 months old -- now he's five! -- and I try to help her enjoy herself. You know, like giving her job perks!" says Dani. "I'll tape some of her favorite shows on TiVo so she can watch them when Brodie's asleep, and make sure I have her favorite snacks around." Adds Betsy, "On my nanny's birthday, I give her a personal gift -- like a scarf -- and some cash in an envelope, and I'll have Melinda draw her a card. Really, she's like my child's other mother!" Hedy, a mother of two, goes even further: "I buy my nanny's two kids presents for the holidays. It makes her really happy, too."

  4. Don't Get in Her Way
    "My sitter has raised her own kids, so I generally give her a lot of autonomy," says Kara, a mother of two. "Even if she does some things differently than I do, I figure it worked for her, no harm done. And we always make sure that our kids, who are two and five, know that her word is final when we're not home. This has gotten important now that my oldest is playing more with kids in the neighborhood and asking them to go over, or to go to their house. Whatever Cynthia says goes! It conveys respect and also makes things run more smoothly."

  5. Be Generous
    Most moms give their nannies an end-of-year bonus (sometimes, as much as an extra week's salary), plus an annual pay raise. "I believe really strongly in not nickel-and-diming my sitter," notes Jessica, a mother of two. "If she works an extra half-hour, I'll round up to an hour. If she bought my kids a $6 lunch, I'll reimburse her $10. My friends think I'm crazy, but I see the payoff. She always comes when I need her, and more importantly, she's happy and cheerful and works hard to make our lives better in every way." 

  6. Pick Your Battles
    "I avoid speaking up about minor stuff that bugs me," says Kara. "Like, my babysitter has a habit of opening the microwave without first pressing 'Stop.' I think it could screw it up and if my husband did it, you'd better believe I'd ask him to stop! But I've held back. My philosophy is that the less I critique and make requests, the more impact it will have when I have an important change I want her to make."

  7. Speak Up About Big Issues
    "If I have to talk with our nanny about something I'm not happy about, I try to get home from work early so we can talk before she leaves, or I'll ask her to come in a few minutes early in the morning," says Joanna, a mom of two. "Leaving notes about biggie things is not okay -- your nanny, and your children, deserve a discussion. If you leave a note, your nanny might feel attacked. It's so easy to read the wrong tone in a note."

  8. Help Her Stay Organized
    "I have a large calendar hanging on the kitchen corkboard where I write down the kids' activities and playdates," says Hedy, a mother of twins. "That way we can remember what's happening when. It keeps us both sane!"